Prenuptial agreements, commonly referred to as “prenups” or premarital agreements, are legal contracts couples sign before getting married. Prenups offer couples the opportunity to openly discuss the various financial aspects of their future relationship, from who will be responsible for health insurance to deciding how to handle paying off debts. To insure that the discussions and negotiations are honest and fair, Florida law requires that there be full financial disclosure of each party’s financial status before the contract is signed. Prenuptial agreements are beneficial in many circumstances, including divorce or the unexpected death of a spouse. Prenups help facilitate honest discussions about marital expectations and finances before walking down the aisle. Prenups can be customized for each couple and their unique goals. Here is what you should consider including in a prenuptial agreement.
Deciding how marital assets, such as possessions, funds, and real property, should be divided in the event of a divorce is a vital part of any prenuptial agreement. Without a prenuptial agreement in place, asset division in a divorce will follow Florida’s Equitable Distribution laws. Equitable distribution seeks to divide assets fairly between spouses, not 50/50. In the end, each spouse will end up with about half of the net value of the marriage. However, these laws do not account for personal assets like pets, family heirlooms, gifts, and other property with real and sentimental value. For these types of assets, you can state your preferences in a prenuptial agreement.
Whether a potential spouse is willing to waive their spousal or estate rights is also something to include in a prenuptial agreement. Spouses are given rights to certain aspects of an estate after a spouse passes away. However, spouses with children from previous relationships and those with established estates may wish to give their children or other family members some of the assets a spouse would usually receive. If this is the case, a spouse can waive their surviving spousal rights in a prenuptial agreement. You can also include provisions such as who will receive inheritances if a spouse passes away.
Prenuptial agreements address the financial aspects of a marriage relationship, not list household duties each spouse is expected to perform. However, couples can determine who will be responsible for shared financial expenses related to the marriage, such as who will provide health insurance, pay bills, and file tax returns. If one or both spouses own a business, this part of the prenuptial agreement could also specify the level of ownership or involvement the spouse will have with the company. Couples should also discuss each spouse’s work expectations in the marriage, such as whether one spouse will stay home to care for young children or an elderly family member.
Couples can specify how everyday financial accounts will be utilized in the marriage, such as creating joint checking or savings accounts. They can also include how they will handle creating or maintaining life insurance policies and investments in stocks or bonds. Couples can also develop a plan to contribute to each other’s retirement accounts or collectively work together to pay off a debt.
It is crucial to seek legal counsel before creating a prenuptial agreement. Each spouse should seek independent legal advice before and during the process. Contact the law office of Thomas R. Peppler at 407-278-6073 to schedule an appointment to discuss your goals and desires for creating a prenuptial agreement.